Author's Note: The story will rotate POV between Hwoarang and Jin. It will always be fairly simple to tell which is which, so you shouldn't get lost. Koorime wrote all of Jin's POV, actions, and dialogue, while Link621 wrote Hwoarang's actions, POV, and dialogue. Else than that, please enjoy.
Warnings: Yaoi, lemon, strong language, and that's about it. There is some character bashing, but it does not necessarily reflect our opinions of the characters. Any derogatory remarks containing something about being British are plainly out of anger for Steve Fox, and are in no way intended as discrimination.
DISCLAIMER: The Tekken Tournament/ King of Iron Fist and it's competitors are not ours, they are property of NAMCO. Lyrics quoted in the beginning are from the Wallflower's "Baby Bird" off of their album "Breach".
Tattered Wings - Part 3
~ When all my colors fade
And my wings, they've turned to leather
I'll know the reasons why
God let me get older
When all my days are through
And I fly these hills no longer
I'll lay beneath the stars
And I'll watch you flying over ~
Act I: Scene III
// Hwoarang, keep your chin up, for Christ's sake. Where is your usual abundance of pride? No student of mine would be reduced to this. //
"Master?" I slowly pushed myself of the floor of my apartment. Jin lay at my feet where I'd been watching him sleep. Baek was sitting at the kitchen table, holding the note Jin wrote. He wore his off-white doboko, and wore his hair back in a ponytail like he would for a lesson. "Master Baek, why are you here?"
// You really are an idiot, Hwoarang. Did it really take you so long to realize that you loved him? //
I blushed, feeling that I was about to be the brunt of Baek's relentless teasing. "Oh, be quiet." I ran a hand through my hair, feeling my fingers nearly catch on the band that held it as part of my doboko. I could feel the distinct weight of the tips of my hair on my shoulders. It was something I'd missed since I'd joined the army. Wait... the army?
// Be strong, boy. This is a time when those who love you will need you the most to be there for them. You have the chance to salvage one of the Mishima line, I suggest you do just that to the best of your ability. //
Then, I remembered. "Baek... I thought... aren't you dead?" My voice faltered, not really remembering if the words I spoke were true or not. I could only assume they were. Then, right before my eyes, Baek began to rot like a corpse, as if in time lapse. My heart twisted with horror as the man I loved as a father was reduced to a pile of nothing but bones, which clattered to the tile of the kitchen floor. The note he'd held slowly drifted down after it.
Looking for comfort, I changed my attention to Jin. When I looked back, he was in his demon form with one wing horribly torn and mangled while the other, left untouched, kept me from seeing his body. A pool of blood seeped into the carpet beneath him. That was when I realized he wasn't breathing....
I woke with a start, my head jolting up from where I'd rested it on the arm of the chair, in the waiting room at the hospital. I could hear a male voice arguing with the nurse outside rather calmly. I knew it was Lee. I'd already nearly had security called on me for arguing with one of the nurses because I wanted to see Jin so badly, which is how I ended up in here. It seemed as if Lee was trying to use the fact that they were related to get me in there. "I'm sorry, Chaolan-san, but it is family only," the nurse insisted.
"You let Steve Fox in," Lee Chaolan pointed out. That must have happened while I was asleep, because otherwise I would have known.
"Mr. Fox brought Kazama-san in here, Chaolan-san," the nurse reminded as if it were the billionth time she had said it. I had to wonder how long the argument had been going on. I had no idea how much time had passed, but I could tell by looking outside the window, it was still day. Thick snow drifted to the ground, collecting rapidly. There were already a few inches on the ground. The sky was too cloudy to guess the hour, but I was sure it must have been early afternoon.
"Can he come in with me as my guest?" Lee gave another attempt. "I am family, and I think it would be best for the two to be...."
"Chaolan-san, please...." I gave up on listening to them, knowing Lee's attempts were in vain.
Someone entered the room, and I turned my head to see Ling Xiaoyu looking very worried as she crossed over to me. "Hwoarang, I just heard...." The girl's cheeks were tear-stained and her eyes were still red. She sat down on the coffee table, which was probably okay because she was so light-weight. Her hair was up, in her usual pigtails. She wore a pair of jeans and a huge winter scarf with mittens. She looked much older than I knew she was, just because it was the most mature I'd ever seen her act.
"He'll be happy to see you," I commented, genuinely glad to see Xiaoyu. She and I came back to Tekken for the same reason. We were both searching for Jin. I found him first, and for the first time, I think it was actually important. Jin didn't have to turn to me to quell the demon. I was positive Xiaoyu loved him just as well as I did.
"He'll want to see you first," Xiaoyu commented with a smile, putting one mitten-clad hand over mine. She was irritatingly cute, but I found myself smiling back. It had been a while since I got to flash a genuine grin at anyone. Xiaoyu pulled off her mittens, and brushed back some hair with one small hand. "They said they would let his friends visit later today. Hopefully soon though, huh?"
I nodded. "Did they tell you I almost got kicked out?" I chuckled as I spoke, suddenly finding the situation very amusing. Xiaoyu laughed, not looking too surprised. "They almost called security on me." My heart was lifted, thinking back on it. I was always so irrational.
Out of the blue, the girl across from me asked, "So, have you two been sleeping together?" So surprised was I that I couldn't find my voice. She laughed. "I'll take that as a yes. So...?" Xiaoyu motioned to a few different lengths with her fingers. When realization of what she was asking dawned on me, I can't imagine my skin had ever been more flushed. Xiaoyu smiled innocently. "Just curious."
"Xiaoyu!" I laughed that odd laugh that was generated when I was somewhere between surprised and embarrassed. Looking back to her mirth-filled face, my heart felt warm. Xiaoyu was Jin's friend, no strings attached, and she had made a place in her heart for me too. Then I knew; she was trying to cheer me up. I leaned out of the chair to take the small girl in my arms, pleased with the way she fit there. "Thank you, Xiaoyu," I whispered. I pushed back to see she was blushing.
"I can't believe this!" A voice exclaimed. I looked over to see a very angry Julia Chang storm through the door. She bitterly growled, "None of his family is going to come for him. They should let us see him!" She then seemed to noticed Xiaoyu and I for the first time. "Oh, I had no idea you two were here." She was cute when she was surprised, now that she had the glasses to slip on her nose with the extreme expression change. This, by no means, should bring anyone to the conclusion that I feel anything past apathy for Julia Chang.
Xiaoyu could tell that the Arizona-born bitch wasn't helping my mood. She stood, walking over to Julia. "Hey, Julia, looks like you need to calm down a little. Why don't we go take a walk?" Julia nodded stiffly, glancing at me again almost curiously. Just before the girls were out the door, Xiaoyu promised, "We'll continue this conversation later, Hwoarang." My cheeks were as red as tomatoes. I looked at my hands sheepishly. No one had ever teased me about the relationship in a friendly way before. I liked it, oddly. It made what little actual relationship we had seem more real and more lasting.
The door opened again, and the last person in the world I needed to see walked in. I carefully kept myself from killing the blonde instantly. "Steve Fox, what an unpleasant surprise," I muttered with a tone of sarcasm dripping from my voice. I had to clamp my hands together over my lap to keep from extending my hands to strangle him.
"Hwoarang, I'm surprised you're even here," Steve said with a roll of his eyes. "After seeing the way you treat Jin, I thought for sure that you wouldn't come to see him willingly." Steve sneered at me. He took a few steps for me, apparently unaware that I was going to kill him if he got much closer, just as a natural instinct. "You don't deserve to be here."
"Do you think I don't know that?" I hissed, obviously to the surprise of the Brit. He blinked at me a couple times. "I'm fully aware I don't deserve Kazama Jin. It is very obvious to me. But that has nothing to do with this!" I was out of my chair, pulling my height on Steve, noticing he was exactly the same height as Jin. I felt my lip involuntarily twitch. How I wished I could switch Steve and Jin in that moment.
"Hwoarang, if you are so aware of this, why are you still here?" He demanded, shrinking back a little from me. He removed a winter jacket, tossing it on the table.
"Because I love him," I said very simply.
"That's a lie," Steve hissed through clenched teeth.
My eyes narrowed. "You have no right to pass judgment on what I do or don't feel. Now, I don't know quite why you are so insistent on destroying what Jin and I have, but at this point I would go to the end of the Earth to be with him." I pushed a finger into Steve's chest. "You shouldn't interfere with something you can't understand."
"You bastard." He gritted his teeth. "I don't know who you think you are, but I will warn you one last time to stay away from Jin. Don't you think you've caused him enough pain?" Steve's eyes were malicious. He meant every word he said in the worst way possible.
"Don't you ever accuse me of something like that again," I growled, feeling that I was at the end of my fairly short fuse. I wouldn't hurt Jin willingly. It was Steve who had led me to hurting him in the first place. That... that... that dickhead! Oh, great insult, Hwoarang, you want a gold star? I hated that voice in my head.
"It's over, Hwoarang. Face it. You fucked up. He won't take you back." Even as Steve was saying this, I could see a twinge of doubt in his eyes. Something must have happened when Steve took Jin to the hospital. Steve took Jin to the hospital, not me. Not the man who really knew him and loved him, but some fake pansy who probably can't even spell his own name. His hands had been on Jin's body, cradling him in his pain....
"... So cold ..."
That's right. Jin needed me, and I let him down because of this one man.
I tackled Steve to the ground, obviously surprising the boxer. I straddled him, pinning his arms to the side. I placed my hands over his throat, holding them in a criss-cross position to break his neck. Instead, I applied a little pressure, not completely blocking Steve's air, but giving him the scare of his life. "You can't stand in my way, Steve Fox. Don't even try. Jin is mine, and I promised I would help him and here I am, letting him down because of my stupid pride and my quick temper. But, that doesn't mean I don't know what has to be done."
"I'll... keep... you away... from my friend..." Steve vowed, barely able to get the air to waste on talking. His eyes were like fire, burning into me in a hopeless attempt to intimidate me. Before I knew it, I was laughing, looking at him. It was the angry laughter of a man gone mad.
"Fuck you, Steve Fox. I'd like to see you even try." I put more pressure on his neck, now actually cutting off his oxygen. He gasped for air in surprise, his hands flinching as he tried to move them from under my arms. I took a sharp knee to my ribs in his attempt to get me off, and I heard a crack. Wincing, my grasp loosened enough for him to get air again.
"Hwoarang!" A voice exclaimed. Suddenly, two pairs of arms were dragging me off of Steve. I recognized them as Xiaoyu and Julia, who were both looking between Steve and me in horror. I suppose they had never seen my strength when I was really angry about something.
"Call security," cried the nurse who ran in with Lee in tow. I could see a smile gracing Lee's lips. He had seen this coming. Normally, that would irritate me, but in that moment, it just added to my amusement.
"No need," I said calmly, wrenching out of the grasp of the two girls that held me. Dusting myself off, I took one last glance at the horribly panting Steve before turning for the exit of the room. I passed Jin's room, snorting softly with the knowledge I couldn't go in. I felt a hand fall on my arm, taking my attention. I looked down at Xiaoyu who looked horrified.
"Hwoarang, you could have killed him...."
"Aw, what the fuck do I care?" I asked, not really meaning it. It would damage me if I had killed him in such a situation. Something in me knew that the next statement was true, though. "I hope he dies."
"Hwoarang!" Xiaoyu exclaimed. She sounded completely astonished with my behavior. God only knows how things would be different if she knew the whole story.
Steve Fox had saved Jin - my Jin. It should have been him broken and half-dead on the operating table, not my lover. "Or, better yet," I began, a hint of my real pain leaking into my malicious thoughts. I suggested, "Just tell him to throw himself off the fucking cliff," as I briskly walked out of the building. As soon as I was out of the sight of anyone who knew me, I leaned against a wall, clutching my side in pain. That stupid monkey really had broken my rib. I sighed. Somehow, it figured.
I'd woken slowly, muffled voices rousing me from a deep, healing slumber. There was no clock in the room that I instantly recognized as a hospital; pale walls, blue sheets, and little to no décor. I couldn't tell how much time had passed and for a few moments I couldn't remember what had happened, what I was doing here. The voices came closer, it sounded as though there was a commotion outside, as I listened sleepily, catching the familiar pitch of a young, female adolescent.
She sounded distressed, but I couldn't discern what she was saying… I froze as I heard another voice reply; I think I stopped breathing. Hwoarang was here?
"Ah, what the fuck do I care?" came the derisive snarl. "I hope he dies."
Xiaoyu uttered his name in horror and I felt my heart plummet. I stared at the blank ceiling and felt as though I was indeed dying all over again, as per his wish, despite how much time I'd slept. My body was numbed stiff, a choking weight settling on my chest and I closed my eyes. I didn't expect there to be more, but Hwoarang's voice rang achingly clear through the closed door, it was edged with disdain and there was no mistaking the pure malice in his tone.
"Or better yet, just tell him to throw himself off the fucking cliff."
Silence. Several hushed murmurs may have followed, but I couldn't be sure through the pillow I pressed to my face, absorbing the salty moisture that leaked from my eyes.
I had asked too much of him and felt ashamedly foolish for having expected… even daring to hope…
A shaky exhale.
So Hwoarang too wanted me dead. That was when my last memory returned like a quick wind stealing breath and for a moment, I was again drowning. In all truth, I hadn't expected to live; there was no way of knowing that I'd survive the confrontation with Mishima Kazuya. I shuddered, recalling the moment I absolutely knew that I was going to die. In that split second, everything had come back to me in a whirlwind as I was presented once more with mother's smiling gaze of perpetual contentment; the almost vulnerable tenderness in Hwoarang's amber eyes as he would hold me in the early morning; my father's burning glare that seared a thousand fold worse than the scar on my arm as he told me that I was not his son....
I clutched the pillow tighter, not wanting to hear my soft cries. Every shuddering breath was a heavy toil on my mended ribs; I knew that they would heal soon enough. The demon would see to that.
My fists clenched and relaxed repeatedly as I felt the infernal wraith shift within me. By my survival, it remained. My father still lives… and I don't know why or how I survived certain death. I'm not sure if there was any point, now. Having faced my father and failed, I don't know if I could do it again. This horrid sensation is draining all of my strength. I've never known this kind of pain, the hollow burn is strange to me and yet....
Even as I pressed myself up into the heated form of my lover, I felt the familiar twinge of that ache in my chest. In my heart.
Why am I still here.... ?
Strong arms locked about my broken body, pulling me to the lake's surface. A familiar voice, friendly and concerned, had urged me to remain conscious. Moonlight caught on golden hair as I failed to comply…
Gold. Not garnet.
… Steve had saved me. Hwoarang wanted me dead.
I'm not sure which hurt more.
The door clicked open to my alarm and I turned into my pillow, not wanting to face anyone at that particular moment. Someone stopped by my bedside; I jumped when fingers lightly prodded at my back through the hospital gown. Turning around, I glared at a young woman in nurse's uniform; she was clearly surprised.
"Oh my, you're awake!" She turned to the open door and called, "Doctor, the patient is awake!" Setting her clipboard down on the sidetable, she helped me into a sitting position, propping the pillows behind me. I cringed slightly as the smooth cloth shifted over my closed wounds; any pressure on them still hurt terribly so I had been sleeping on my side. She reached for the cart she'd wheeled in and placed a tray of food before me. I stared at it and her. My stomach was growling fiercely but in my head, I wasn't hungry. I looked away from her when she peered at me closely, frowning in concern.
"Are you alright, dear?"
'Dear'? That was something your grandmother called you, this woman couldn't be more than two years older than myself. I scowled and looked to the furthest corner just as the doctor entered, a middle-aged man with graying brown hair and square glasses. He clicked a pen and put it in his shirt pocket.
"So how's the patient today?" he asked, smiling brightly.
The nurse closed the door behind her quickly; just as she turned I caught the quick flicker of black hair and then a persistent young voice I knew was Xiaoyu.
"Is he awake? I wanna see him.... !"
"Not yet, I'm afraid.... " The voices were muffled as the door clicked shut and I was left alone with the doctor. He examined my vitals that blipped across a small monitor by my bed and scribbled something on that clipboard the nurse had left. He made a strange sound of surprise and looked at me.
"Well you're certainly a fast healer… Kazama-san, was it?"
I nodded, taking a fork from the tray and tapping it against the back of my hand.
The Doctor continued. "We took you off intubations this morning; you've been unconscious for a little over a day. Remarkable healing rate, I must say." He pulled up a chair to the bed and sat down so that we were at eye level. "When you were brought in the other night, you had sustained five broken ribs, a fractured jaw and a serious concussion. You also had substantial blood loss. We took you straight into surgery and as you can see, it was a success."
Unfortunately. " … "
"Could you lean just a bit forward, so I may take a look at your back?"
I frowned, but did as he asked, tensing as his warm fingers skimmed over the sore flesh.
He paused when I grunted in discomfort. "Does that hurt?"
He shook his head in pure awe. "The wounds have entirely closed, though there is still a little coloring of bruised flesh… Amazing."
Yes. Let's everyone gape and poke at the freak that is Kazama Jin.
The Doctor pulled back to look me in the eye, scribbling something more on that clipboard of his. "I'm afraid the wounds will leave scars, Kazama-san, but aside from that, you're healing very well." He positively beamed and I almost rolled my eyes. Hn. I knew he probably had a million questions, various tests he would like to run.
"Kazama-san, I have a few questions for you and then the police are going to come in here to ask some of their own."
I froze. "… What police?"
He patted my shoulder reassuringly. "This was obviously an attack and they want to ask you a few things. Just relax, all will be fine, Kazama-san."
I didn't like what he said next.
Indicating my left bicep with his pen, he asked, "Where did you acquire that mark?" His tone implied more so I avoided his eye and focused determinedly on the far wall.
"… It's a tattoo."
He frowned lightly. "Are you sure, Kazama-san? We examined the pigment of the skin and found it to be quite the opposite. There weren't any of the chemicals typical of tattoos, in fact, there were none. As far as we could tell, it was… "
The door burst open at that moment and shouting followed.
"Miss, you can't go in there!"
"Miss, my butt!" Xiaoyu snapped at the young nurse. "He's awake, you see?" Those dark eyes settled on me and then she was on the opposite side of my bed to the doctor, clasping my hands gently. Her hair was pulled back in two high pigtails, but it didn't look so juvenile anymore. Her face had adopted sharp angles and she looked incredibly more… mature.
"Jin, are you alright? How have they been treating you?" Her eyes were scanning me quickly, obviously searching for my injuries. She wouldn't find them on my skin; they rutted deep within my chest, clenching my heart. I was so glad to see her that I smiled weakly; I didn't want to answer any of the Doctor's questions.
The nurse came rushing in, followed by several others I didn't pay much notice to until they spoke.
"Doctor, I'm sorry-" the nurse began. The Doctor smiled and held up a hand, rising from his seat.
"Quite alright, Min-san." He smiled at Xiaoyu and I. "I'm sure Kazama-san will be just fine with his friends. We'll continue this discussion later, ne, Kazama-san? The authorities will be arriving shortly once I inform them that you're awake."
I must have been squeezing Xiaoyu's hand a little too tightly, for she frowned and searched my face. "Jin, what's wrong?"
I looked at her then. "What authorities?"
She shrugged, opening her mouth to reply, but someone beat her to it.
"The Mishima Zaibatsu holds claim over most of the law enforcement around here."
The voice belonged to a silver-haired man who leaned back against the closed door. He was clad in blues and silver, making his eyes most striking. Next to him stood a familiar brunette woman clad entirely in denim blue. She stared at me over slim glasses with an expression of contemplation; her hands stuffed in the back pockets of her jeans as she tilted her head to one side.
"… Julia-san?" I asked quietly, not sure.
Julia Chang blinked in surprise, her cheeks tinting with the faintest blush. "Oh, you remembered me! I wasn't sure if you would. I came with Xiaoyu when your uncle told us the news." She motioned to the man behind her. My uncle… ? I didn't have an uncle. Unless…
I stared at him, even more unsure now. Wasn't this man supposed to be dead? "… Chaolan… ?"
He nodded, a small smile curving thin lips. "Chaolan Lee."
I continued to stare. Both he and my father were alive after being proclaimed dead? What was this?
At my side, Xiaoyu giggled. "You look like you've seen a ghost!"
"… I have," I murmured, still staring at the silver-haired man.
Lee's smile faded, if only a little. "No, I'm very alive, Kazama-san."
I had immediately felt threatened when I learned who he was, but I was amazed at the warmth in his voice when he said my name. I found myself wondering just how different he was from my father?
"And so are you, thank God," Julia sat at the foot of my bed.
God. Hah. Don't make me laugh.
"Jin, what happened to you?" Xiaoyu asked me gently, but instantly I felt my jaw clamp down. I willed my expression to betray nothing as I looked at the food on the tray before me, still untouched.
"You must be hungry!" Lee said, moving forward. I looked at him in masked surprise; who was this man? Why was he suddenly covering for me, a stranger he didn't even know? The atmosphere suddenly changed as Lee picked up a bowl of steaming rice from the tray and waved it in front of my face, taking the fork from my hand he replaced it with chopsticks. Xiaoyu giggled as I let him do all this in dumbfounded silence, Julia moved closer as my uncle settled back in the chair the Doctor had previously occupied. The American girl was opening a small juice pack, pouring it into a plastic cup when Xiaoyu made a sound of delight, making a quick grab for… something in a small tub. She tapped it with her finger, smiling brightly.
"You gonna eat this?"
Blink. " … " Her Chinese accent sounded very interesting through her fluent Japanese but she only grinned, taking hold of a teaspoon on the tray and diving into the tub's contents. Ah, pudding.
Julia handed me the glass of juice and I took it, surprised at how heavy my arm felt. When I clasped the small glass, her other hand closed over mine in a steadying gesture; it wasn't until then that I noticed I'd been shaking. "Are you feeling any better?" she asked, gently.
Instead of replying I simply nodded and took the drink. A curiosity was nagging at me as I stared at the beverage, wondering if I should keep my mouth shut. Curiosity won out.
"Um… " I had to clear my throat when my voice cracked slightly. "Did you all come alone?"
"I came with Xiaoyu," Julia reminded me. She nodded at the man in the chair beside her. "Chaolan-san came with Hwoarang but that silly Korean left a few minutes ago."
I couldn't hide my disappointment. "Oh."
"Julia," Xiaoyu hushed in a disapproving murmur. I looked between them, trying to gauge their expressions. Lee folded one knee over the other, gloves fingers tapping the arm of his chair as he watched this exchange.
"Well he was making such a terrible racket!" Julia shivered a little. "Hwoarang scares me sometimes."
Licking her lips, Xiaoyu stirred her spoon in the small tub of pudding, eager to change the subject. "You know that Steve Fox man? He's around here-somewhere. I think he was the one that brought you to the hospital."
Oh yes, Steve. My gaze fell to the rice bowl in my hand as a tap came at the door. A different nurse poked her head in.
"Kazama-san, the authorities are on their way."
My blood ran cold. I did not want to try and explain the marks on my back, why I had broken bones mending and what the mark on my arm meant. Especially if these authorities belonged to my grandfather. Swallowing quickly, I lost my appetite and looked pleadingly at my uncle.
"Chaolan-san, is there any chance… "
He grinned, interrupting mid-sentence. "I thought you would never ask."
Call me old-fashioned, but I found myself in the flower shop nearest the hospital two blocks of walking and thinking later, wondering if they got the best business in town. I could almost hear the commercials that would play on the televisions in the waiting room.
The nearest florist-convenient for mourning, celebrating, and well wish-ers of all ages! Pay us three times the normal price and get half the flowers! Why? Because we are the closest flower shop to the damn hospital!
That is why I didn't go into advertising. Well, and one has to be intelligent to make it in advertising. As anyone with an IQ better than mayonnaise can see, I'm the single most moronic person to ever set foot on the fucking planet. I had Kazama Jin. The heir of the biggest fucking sum of money, not to mention an amazing ass. Well, and he sure had great eyes. I could stare at them all day.
Shoot me now, I sound like a girl.
But, anyway, if that wasn't enough, he was also gentle, kind, and actually had a decent sense of humor when you could get some sound out of him. He could cook, clean, and generally take care of someone no matter what. But, that's not why I fell in love with him.
Okay, shoot me twice, this is just ridiculous.
I fell in love with the way his hair gets in his eyes and he subconsciously pouts. I fell in love with the fact that his shirts are two sizes too big on me. I fell in love with the fact that he grunts in annoyance when I offer to cook dinner, inevitably fail, and then order something for delivery. I fell in love with the fact he assumes I am as fluent in Japanese as he is, and then confuses me when he uses vocabulary that has a double meaning (which often leads to me thinking he wants very kinky sex). I fell in love with the man that yells at me for all the stupid shit I do, just to apologize later when I've forgotten it happened at all. I fell in love with Jin, the real Jin that no one else knows.
And I fucked it all up.
So... roses or lilies? Carnations are nice too, but they seem too impersonal. And, I had to be careful with lilies. If I get the really nice fragrant ones, the Easter Lilies, he's going to think I was planning his funeral instead of a recovery. Heh, that would actually probably make him pretty upset. I better log that away-never tell Jin you are planning his funeral or otherwise contemplating his near, very permanent end.
Roses it is. I looked at the price on a lovely bouquet of roses and winced. No way did I have that many yen just in my pocket to spend on anything but the essentials of life, not to mention, it was really Jin's money. I had a little of my own money, but it was all I had to buy me the plane ticket back to Korea. And, after all this, I was going to want to go home... and I doubt Jin will want me back.
I went for the secret pocket in my military issue vest and produced my wallet. I opened it, flipping through a few Korean bills before finding any yen. Also inside were some pictures, really just little snapshots of some of my gang, Baek, and a few other people I knew from back home. There was also a picture that I'd kept for a long time, though I told no one of it. The night I rescued Jin after the third tournament, something fell out of his pocket, which I'd originally meant to return to him. It was a picture of he and Xiaoyu, in their school uniforms, laughing under the cherry blossoms. The picture was wonderful because of Jin's mirth-filled face. On the back, in Xiaoyu's scribbled kanji, it read, "Cherry blossom memory."
I shook my head, pulling out the yen I had and flipping through the bills to sort out the correct amount. God damn "western" roses were so fucking expensive. With a sigh, I grabbed the arrangement and went to the cashier. He smiled at me pleasantly and I couldn't help but smile back. I think it was his job to make people smile though working at the closest flower shop to the damn hospital. "Anything else for you sir?"
"No, thanks," I replied, wondering if anyone ever said yes to that question at a florist. Sure, it could make sense in a restaurant, but why at a florist? I gave him a small smile, wondering if it was part of his job to say that too. It wouldn't surprise me, the way they brainwash people in the workplace these days.
I was so lost in thought, I hadn't even noticed I had paid already until the man at the counter said, "Um... is there something else, sir? You're good to go...." He must have thought I was bannanas. Well, I guess I had gone ape shit earlier that afternoon. Oh, cute pun. Are you proud? I really hated that voice in my head. Though, it was always right.
I shook my head to the nice florist before leaving the store to walk two blocks back to the hospital. Maybe if I came in with the flowers, acting genuinely apologetic, they'd let me see Jin, no questions asked, and just sort of "look the other way" about the incident earlier. It wasn't very likely, but a man can dream, right? Which is why I was so surprised when they ushered me straight to his room when I got back to the hospital. I walked by a ton of police who were angrily challenging the serene Chaolan Lee, and Julia who blinked at me in surprise before giving me a friendly smile. This did not make me feel any less resent for her, mind you. I do not like Miss Chang, it is simple as that.
Both Steve and Xiaoyu were nowhere to be seen. On the one hand, I was glad to see Steve was gone, on the other hand, I was a little disappointed that Xiaoyu wasn't there to keep me company, and to make seeing Jin a little easier. With a deep sigh, I clasped my hand around the doorknob, and stood in that position for almost five minutes just preparing myself. Jin was going to tell me to go to hell, and that I was the most selfish bastard in the world, and that he would kill me if he didn't feel like shit. A small ironic smile came to my lips. No, that would be me in his shoes. Jin would just stare at me with a look that could kill until I left the room in tears, or damn near it. I clutched the roses a little tighter and entered.
"Hwoarang," came a surprised whisper as I came through the door. Xiaoyu was at Jin's bedside with one hand carefully rested across his hand as he slept. I noted with a twinge of pain in my heart that Jin's face had that slight glitch in his expression that alerted me that he was having a bad dream. He didn't flail like most did, so it was hard to recognize until you'd watched him sleep every night for a month or more.
Not... that... I did that... or anything....
"Yo," I called back meekly, blushing a little as she pointed to the flowers and giggled. She stood from Jin's bedside and came to me, putting a hand on my arm. I could see in her eyes that she was genuinely glad I came back.
"He's sleeping. The doctors put him on Vicidan, and then he got drowsy and went back to sleep." Xiaoyu got an evil smile on her face. "We all came in and saw him earlier right after he woke up, and he wouldn't talk much, though he did let me have his pudding." A smile quirked on my face, brought on by the younger girl's words. It was times like those when I couldn't ignore she was still a girl. "But, I'll leave you two alone," Xiaoyu offered, patting my arm once more. "He really wanted to see you. I could tell by how he acted when Julia told him you were gone."
I blushed despite myself. Xiaoyu was being nosy and embarrassing, but I couldn't tell her to stop without being bitchy. She slipped out of the room before I could comment, leaving me to stare at Jin's sleeping form with a sad smile. Kazama Jin, the man I had and couldn't hold on to so I was going to win back with an apology and some roses.
Okay, just bury me alive, forget about shooting me, that was too damn pathetic.
I went to his side, setting the flowers down beside him. "So, Jin, how's it feel?" I got no response from the sleeping boy. Of course you didn't, dumbass, he's drugged out of his brains so he won't be in too much pain to sleep. What-the-fuck-ever.
I gently placed a hand on Jin's face, feeling the smoothness of the unmarred skin against my rough hands. "You look very handsome, for someone who's been to hell and back in the most literal way," I complimented the oblivious boy. In his sleep, he leaned into my hand, and his lips lightly bushed the base of my thumb where it met with my palm. My skin burned where he touched it, and it surprised me. Normally his touch was like ice. Pleasant, but cool.
I lowered my face to kiss those slightly parted lips, and was a little disappointed though not surprised that he did not awaken like Sleeping Beauty and declare eternal love for me. Rising again, I placed the roses on the side of the bed by Jin's face and sighed. Being with him was nice, and all, but I couldn't really just sit there and stare at his sleeping face. It hurt too much when I was so accustomed to his lively, though stoic, visage.
I turned from him, deciding I would return when he was awake again so I could apologize for everything. "I miss you," I whispered softly. "I'm so sorry I hurt you," I added, looking at the small smile that met Jin's lips in his sleep. No more nightmares would Jin have until he woke up. I knew that contented smile on his face all too well, for I was the one who'd perfected the art of drawing it out of him.
I left the room, and closed the door behind me before I bothered to look up. Steve Fox stood right outside the door, looking at me in surprise. "Hwoarang, when did you come back?" His eyes narrowed dangerously. He was not happy I'd seen Jin, and I could tell.
"I came to say something to Jin, but he's asleep, so I couldn't really. I was going to go back to the waiting room and wait, though maybe we should go together and have a talk about this. I seriously over-reacted earlier, you just have to understand that I..." I was cut off as he landed a lightning fast jab to the broken rib he'd caused. I cry tore from my lips, much to my wounded pride's despair. It had been hard enough attempting a truce with Steve, now he was exploiting another weakness. Fuck that.
"Hwoarang, I thought you'd finally figured it out after earlier today. All you've ever done is hurt him. That isn't a healthy foundation for a relationship." Steve sighed, putting a hand through his slick blonde hair. "I'll be honest with you, Hwoarang, I really do like Jin... maybe more than I should. That is why I can't let you exploit him like this. Don't you understand that?"
All I understood was my world was swimming with pain. Why is it that an agitated wound always hurts like a mother-fucker when the original wound doesn't really bother you? I ignored Steve, walking past him half-blindly. It just wanted to lay down and forget, try and rest a little more, and then work out things with Jin. Awe, ain't that the sweetest thing? Oh, be quiet.
I'd been in the room for nearly a half-hour when Lee came up to me with a sad smile. "Chaolan-san?" Something about his posture told me he was tired, and age was starting to show on his otherwise youthful and unmarred face. I could just now see the wrinkles that were gracing his eyes beside dark eyelashes. I had a feeling this should worry me.
"The hospital staff has just informed me that Steve Fox has filed a complaint about you. They were too afraid to do it on their own, so they asked me to see you out. They don't want you returning to this hospital ever again, with the exception of an emergency." My blood froze. That stupid-ass little shit was getting me kicked out. My fists clamped tightly at my sides. I started to open my mouth, but Lee stopped me by jumping on me, pinning me to the couch. "They also asked me to do this," he said with an odd grin as he held up a syringe. "Sorry."
"What the.... ?"
No sooner had the medicine hit my system I was out cold.
I awoke the next morning, wearing the same clothes, on the bed of our apartment. On the bedside table was a vase filled with water and horribly crushed roses that looked all too familiar. There was a little white card on the table. I grabbed it and read, "This was all I could salvage of your flowers, sorry. Steve wasn't happy when he found them. I'll call you when Jin can go home." It was signed with Xiaoyu's name.
I hate my life.
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